I had a meeting in North Miami so we settled on Morton's on US1. We needed to so some talking, so we scheduled the meeting for 9pm on a Tuesday night, figuring it wouldn't be too busy. When I hit the parking lot, the first thing you notice is 4 rows of empty spots. The first 2 sections are valet only and self parking is in the rear. There were maybe 5 cars in the 100 valet spots and then it was difficult to find a spot in self parking. I'd say 90% of the customers were self parked. No need to spend an extra $5 when you're dropping $200+ for dinner, apparently.
Inside, I was surprised by the size of the bar area. It's very small compared to the lounge at Fort Lauderdale. The bar is fairly unappealing; there were 0 people at the bar on the way in and 0 people at 10:45 on the way out, even though it was late happy hour.
Morton's North Miami
Two things about the dining room; it's VERY dark; so dark that you can't read the menu. I'm guessing that they hope you don't notice the prices. The other is that it was very loud. Maybe it was half full, but with a lot of kids. We were surprised by the number of 6yos out dining at 10pm on a Tuesday.
Morton's North Miami Dining Room
When you sit down, they don't give you menus. There's just a wine list while you wait for a server. Then they ask if you want tap water or a bottle; Tap Water? They really don't have a water service in a restaurant that charges $50 for a small steak? I ordered a Pellegrino, which is exactly what they wanted; no lime for the glasses and I had to ask for a glass of ice. $9.25 for the bottle of water.>
I wasn't drinking much tonight, so we got a couple of beers tried to read the menu. they have mini lamps on the tables that are helpful. The onion bread comes out with a ribbon of soft butter; this bread was better than the one I got in Fort Lauderdale; nice and soft and it didn't break into a million crumbs when it was cut.
I really wasn't that hungry so I wasn't going to get a salad; my companion ordered a caesar and an 8oz Filet. Something I realized is that their beef selection is weak. I don't like ribeye, so they basically only have regular Filets, Porterhouse and Strip steaks. Of course Porterhouse is a strip steak and a filet, so they have 2 steaks. No bone-in options or sirloins. I decided I'd try the short rib.
Something to note was that when we ordered the caesar our server asked if I was having one also; a restaurant that wasn't trying to gouge you for every dime possible would have indicated that the $12 salad was big enough for 2, which it is.
Morton's Caesar Salad
There was no way she was eating the entire salad so I asked for another plate, which seemed to bother the server. He was running around and it was difficult to get his attention. None of the "Do you have everything you need" like you might expect at a premium venue.
The salad was excellent, although I would have liked it better if the cheese was shredded or grated. Shaved cheese is stupid to me; am I supposed to pick it up and take a bite out of it? Or slice it up and put it back on the salad?
The filet looked normal and it was properly cooked medium. I didn't taste it but she said it was "fine".
Morton's Filet Mignon
The creamed spinach was very good; however at $13 it's difficult to be that good. I guess you pay $10 or more for spinach dip and this wasn't much different.
Morton's Creamed Spinach
The Short Rib is served as some sort of lame 'stroganoff", with wide noodles and sour cream on the side. This is a recipe you might expect when you dine at your friend's house and his wife has no idea how to cook. The short rib was good; not as good as the one they used to have at Timpano
before the new owners removed it.
Morton's Short Rib
Better over a nice risotto. I don't really want noodles and plain sour cream with a $35. short rib.
Their advertising says that "Every guest is treated like a VIP", which is utter nonsense. Nothing is explained; no specials are offered; they have "seasonal" specials on their website but there was no mention of them on the menu or by our server. No useful suggestions. It wasn't bad service, but there was nothing about it that made me feel like the restaurant was worth the price.
USDA Prime or Dry Aged?
There's much debate as to which is better, USDA Prime or Dry Aged beef. The Aging process adds cost to the beef; venues like Capital Grille serve Dry Aged rather than USDA prime beef. A standard restaurant trick is to use the word "Prime" without the USDA designation. Calling a steak "Prime" without the USDA is virtually meaningless; it's just an adjective that can legally be applied to any piece of meat.
If you go to the "About our Beef" on their web site you'll see a big thing about how their beef is USDA Prime and Dry Aged. But what's curious is that their menus in the United States don't say anything about the beef being USDA Prime or Dry Aged.
Here is a menu from Singapore:
Notice the trickery on the menu. In the headings, they say "Dry Aged USDA Beef". USDA is meaningless without specifying the grade. Then they have *some* of the cuts designated as USDA Prime, and others don't mention it. From the menu, I'd guess that the Filet Mignon is not USDA Prime.
On their US Menus, they don't specify anything; neither USDA Prime nor Dry Aging. The just call them "Prime" Steaks and Chops.
So how do we know what quality beef we're getting based on the menu? We have no idea.
The likelihood that this is some sort of accidental omission is remote. These menus are carefully crafted to meet legal discloser requirements. This could mean that *some* of the beef they serve is dry aged or USDA Prime, or it could mean that all of the beef is the same grade as they serve at The Outback. Based on the menu, if they were serving USDA Choice beef (supermarket quality), they'd be completely within the legal bounds.
I've written them asking them to clarify the grade of the beef they serve and why the menus didn't specify grade or dry aging, and I've yet to get the written response I requested.
8% Sales Tax
As if their prices aren't ridiculous enough, because Morton's is a high grossing restaurant there's another 1% tacked on for Miami's "Homeless and Domestic Violence" Tax.
Another reason to avoid big restaurants in Miami.
Based on the way they conduct their business, the uncertainty of whether or not the beef I'm getting is worth anything near what I'm paying for it, lack of selection of Beef and the generally unfriendly service, Morton's is my new least favorite restaurant.
I remember the first time I went to Ruth's Chris in Garden City, NY. It's one of the best Ruth's Chris in the country. My brother and I took my Mom for Mother's Day. We had porterhouse, shrimp, split some sides. It's was very expensive. But we left there feeling like we'd just had our best meal of the year and nothing else was going to come close. There's none of that feeling here. You just leave feeling like you've been swindled.